The Duelling Pistols of Brown’s of Blackburn

The Slang DUELLISTS - a shot at a Hawke or the Wounded Pigeon Isaac Cruikshank 1807
Courtesy of the British Museum

Today we thought we would share some information about a rare pair of silver mounted 22-bore flintlock, breech loading duelling pistols made by Andreas Rhienhold (Andrew) Dolep, a Dutchman who was working in London. The pistols were highly innovative, featuring an automatic priming magazine, a re-loadable metal cartridge and a hinged barrel for easier and quicker reloading.

The pistols were made for one of Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s ancestors around 1690 and include the family (Brown of Blackburn in Berwickshire) arms and motto.

The pistols have had a chequered and interesting recent history, regardless of what they may have seen in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries. Possibly donated on the 16th Sept 1830 to the Bristol Institution by G.N. Daubeny Esq (as a pair of curiously formed ancient pistols), by 1921 they had found their way into the collection at Bristol Museum.

At some point after this one went missing (disappeared, presumed stolen or accidentally disposed of before 1945 when the records show just the one pistol in the collection) and then the remaining pistol was stolen in 1968 by a Major Baxter during an unsupervised visit to the museum stores.

The stolen pistol was offered via a dealer to a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London – luckily the curator recognized it and the pistol was recovered.  Major Baxter was convicted of theft from other museums and during the investigation it was proved that the other pistol, the missing one, was in the hands of a private collector; with no record of how or why it had left the care of the Bristol Museum and was present in his collection.

Since 1970 the pistol which was stolen has been on loan to the V&A.  The ‘missing’ pistol was offered for sale by Bonhams  auction house in Knightsbridge during November 2011, one of over fifty lots from the collection of the late Dr Robert Rabett – it sold for £31,250. Bonhams kindly agreed to pass our contact details to the present owner so that we could share this information with them, but to date we have had no contact.

We had wanted to include a copy of the pistols to show the Brown family crest in our book, unfortunately due to lack of space this was not possible so we thought we would share it with our readers here instead. We give more information on this fascinating but long forgotten family in our book, An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott, and suggest who may have owned the pistols when they were new. The pistol owned by Bristol Museum has now been permanently transferred to the V&A in London where it can be viewed. It is in the British Galleries, room 56d, case 5.

Brown Crest on pistol
Brown of Blackburn Crest on pistol.
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum and transferred from Bristol Museums and Galleries.

Sources:

Victoria & Albert Museum

Bonhams

Antiques Trade Gazette

lwlpr06170

Georgian Era Muffs, Tippets and Furs

faith

Having seen Faith Evans on the red carpet of the 2016 Grammys, sporting a sleek black ‘fur’ accessory, we thought we would take a look at the muffs, tippets and the use of fur, which were extremely popular in the Georgian Era even though today the wearing of fur is somewhat controversial to say the least.

The tippet was an item of clothing worn that today we would refer to as a stole or scarf, but was largely made from fur.

The Great Boa Tippet 1829 © The Trustees of the British Museum
The Great Boa Tippet 1829
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Porcupine, Tuesday, December 2, 1800

Fashion for December 1800 – Miscellaneous Observations

The fashionable colours are scarlet, purple, puce and Mazarin blue. The fancy article generally adopted are blends of various colours, as amber, scarlet, pink and rose; plain and figured, feathers of all kinds, flowers, gold and silver trimmings. Weymouth tippets instead of long tippets.

Oracle and Public Advertiser, Monday, January 15, 1798

Oracle and Public Advertiser Monday, January 15, 1798

We have yet to find out what a Weymouth tippet was and how it differed from the long tippet – maybe one of our readers will know.

Morning Herald, Saturday, November 9, 1799

The cold weather has begun to make an extraordinary change in the dress of the Ladies of Haut Ton: a tippet or two yesterday appeared in Bond Street and some females in defiance of fashion, had actually made to their chemise the addition of a petticoat!

We were quite interested to find out the cost of such items and thought you would be too, even then they were using fake fur rather than the real thing. Sable tippets and muffs price from 1 shilling, 5 pence (around £5 in today’s money) up to 16 shillings (around £60 in today’s money).

Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser, Friday December 10 1756
Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser, Friday December 10 1756

Morning Post and Fashionable World, Thursday, November 19, 1795

Muffs, Tippets, Trimmings of fur of every denomination: Very handsome bear muffs at 12 and 14s such as have always been sold at 18s and 21s. Fox muffs at eight shillings.

1780 British muff Met museum

The muff was a ‘must have’ fashion accessory, maybe one that we should revive for cold winter’s days. It was a cylinder of fabric or fur which was open at both ends, but provided a way of keeping the hands warm. The concept dated back to the 1500s and was used by men and women. Muffetees were a type of shortened muff, worn not only for warmth but also to protect the wrist ruffles when playing cards. There were also small muffs which were closed at one end with a thumb section.

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The newspapers regularly carried ‘fashion of the month’ reports so that women knew exactly what was in vogue – hair style, dress colour, shoes, muff or no muff … so that one wouldn’t be caught out wearing the wrong outfit! Have times changed, probably not!

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

At the other end of the spectrum was came across a book entitled  Instructions for cutting out apparel for the poor which provided the cost and instructions of how to make cheap tippets for poor girls in 1789, priced at 3 old pennies, that’s a mere £0.70 in today’s money!

1789 Instructions for cutting out apparel for the poor - 1

1789 Instructions for cutting out apparel for the poor - 2

The Fox Muff, Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

We always find that our research leads us in the most unexpected directions and this time we ended up in the law courts. At the Old Bailey we came come across quite a few cases of theft of muffs and tippets. If found guilty the sentence ranged from prison/hard labour or transportation for a period of 7 years.

13th December 1786

Ann Ward was indicted for feloniously stealing, on the 24th day of November, a red fox fur muff, value 20 shillings, the property of Joseph Thomson, a haberdasher in Oxford Street. Ann stole a red fox skin muff. – Verdict Guilt – Sentence – Transportation

25th February 1789

Amelia Morley, alias Amie Lovel, was indicted for stealing, on the 3d of February, one muff, value 18 s. and one tippet, value 5 s. the property of Daniel Bumstead. Verdict Guilty, Sentence imprisoned for 6 months

Our final newspaper article is a somewhat sad one, someone had gone to a great deal of care to ensure that the infant was well dressed. Sadly we’ll never find out what happened to the child .

Morning Herald, Friday June 6 1800
Morning Herald, Friday June 6 1800

How to mock 18th century nobility – The Gardener’s Calendar

83981001
The Caricaturers Stock in Trade Courtesy of the British Museum

‘A garden is a world and every tree and flower are men and women’

The Georgian newspapers loved nothing more than mocking the aristocracy, never more so than in this article we stumbled across in The Morning Herald, January 1781, entitled ‘Vegetable Kit-Cats’, otherwise known as ‘The Gardener’s Calendar’ which attributed trees and flowers to some of the great and the not so good of the day so we thought it would be fun to follow suit.

Firstly of course we have His Majesty, King George III  – The Royal Oak

studio of Allan Ramsay, oil on canvas, (1761-1762)
King George III, studio of Allan Ramsay, oil on canvas, (1761-1762) Courtesy of NPG
Tate; (c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Oak tree, by Joseph Farrington Courtesy of Tate; (c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closely followed by The Queena Crown Imperial

studio of Allan Ramsay, oil on canvas, (1762)
studio of Allan Ramsay, oil on canvas, (1762) Courtesy of NPG
(c) National Trust, Dudmaston; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Roses, Tulips and Crown Imperial in a Vase with a Bird’s Nest by Jan van Os c1770 (c) National Trust, Dudmaston; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prince of Wales, now we’re sure that there must be any number of flowers that spring to mind, but the Morning Herald has chosen Hearts Ease, otherwise known as ‘leap up and kiss me‘. We can’t imagine why!

by Richard Cosway, watercolour on ivory, circa 1780-1782
by Richard Cosway, watercolour on ivory, circa 1780-1782, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

 

Heart's ease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess Royal,  passion flower

Princess Royal, Charlotte
Charlotte, Princess Royal

passion flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prince William Henry, Sweet William

sweet william

by Sir Martin Archer Shee, oil on canvas, circa 1800
by Sir Martin Archer Shee, oil on canvas, circa 1800 Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duke of Richmond, Fleur de Lis

240px-3rd_Duke_of_Richmond

Fleur de Lis or Iris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Coleraine, Coxcomb

George Hanger, 4th Lord Coleraine (1751-1824) c.1782-92 Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
George Hanger, 4th Lord Coleraine (1751-1824) c.1782-92
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

john-edwards-1795-folio-hand-col-botanical-print.-coxcomb-51490-p[ekm]416x554[ekm]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Egremont, Bachelor’s Button

by John Samuel Agar, published by T. Cadell & W. Davies, after John Wright, after Thomas Phillips, stipple engraving, published 16 April 1810
by John Samuel Agar, published by T. Cadell & W. Davies, after John Wright, after Thomas Phillips, stipple engraving, published 16 April 1810 Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Bachelors Buttons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duchess of Devonshire, London’s Pride

200px-Joshua_Reynolds_-_Georgiana,_Duchess_of_Devonshire c1775
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire c1775 Joshua Reynolds

WSY0041742_14562

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hon. Thomas Onslow, Dwarf Stock. His nickname at the time being ‘Tom Tit’ or dwarf

Hon Thomas Onslow Courtesy of the British Museum
Hon Thomas Onslow Courtesy of the British Museum

 

stock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Kellie, Scarlet Lychnis

Thomas Erskine 6th Earl of Kellie 1780 Courtesy of the British Museum

 

curtis-1794-hand-col-botanical-print.-scarlet-lychnis-257-90139-p[ekm]416x554[ekm]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Far__n, Sensitive plant

Sensitive plant - mimosa

Miss Farren in the Character of Hermione. Winter's Tale Act V and A
Miss Farren in the Character of Hermione. Winter’s Tale Act. Courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs Robinson, Princes Feather

110172075
Prince’s Feather or Kiss me over the garden gate (Polygonum orientale), Polygonaceae by Giovanni Antonio Bottione, watercolor, 1770-1781
Mary Darby (1758–1800), Mrs Thomas Robinson ('Perdita') by Thomas Gainsborough c.1781 (c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Mary Darby (1758–1800), Mrs Thomas Robinson (‘Perdita’) by Thomas Gainsborough c.1781
(c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs Mahon, Drooping Lilly of the Valley

Gertrude Mahon, 1781 Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
Gertrude Mahon, 1781 Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Lily of the Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vestris, The Caper Tree

Vestris and Cholmondeley 1781
‘Regardez Moi’. Lord Cholmondeley and Vestris, 1781. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

220px-Illustration_Capparis_spinosa0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wonder whether you agree with their choice or perhaps had some others you feel could be added to that list. If you do please let us know the person and a suitable plant to match their personality. The list of possible candidates from that period must be endless!

 

Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match c.1784-6 by Johan Zoffany 1733-1810

A closer look at Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match

Today we are going to have a look at a painting (and its copies) which features Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s cousin, Colonel John Mordaunt.

John Mordaunt was one of the illegitimate sons born to Grace’s aunt Robinaiana Brown when she was the mistress of Charles Mordaunt, 4th Earl of Peterborough. The couple later married, as soon as his first wife had conveniently breathed her last, and managed a legitimate son and heir, Charles Henry who became, in time, the 5th and last Earl of Peterborough.

The elder sons were packed off to India to make their fortunes.

John Mordaunt (Jack to his friends) became a favourite at the court of the Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Oudh in Lucknow, where the two men shared a love for the sport of cock-fighting, a brutal and barbaric activity; John had several gamecocks imported from England for this purpose. And so Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match shows a scene from the Nawab’s court with the two men engaged in this activity. Painted by Johan Zoffany c.1784-86 during his time in India, it was commissioned by Warren Hastings shortly before he resigned as the Governor-General of India. Hastings is not present in the picture but he was in attendance at John Mordaunt’s cock fight on the 5th April 1784, on which this painting is probably based. It is now held in the Tate in London.

Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match c.1784-6 by Johan Zoffany 1733-1810
Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match c.1784-6 by Johan Zoffany 1733-1810.
© The Tate

Jack Mordaunt was an easy-going and charming fellow, quite the male counterpart to his cousin Grace. He was in charge of the Nawab’s bodyguards and at the head of all the amusements of the court.

So, let’s have a closer look at some of the people in the people in the painting.

In the centre we have Jack Mordaunt, dressed in white and holding out his hands in front of him. Asaf-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Oudh, is gesturing towards Mordaunt. In front of them are their two Cockfighters, Mordaunt’s wearing the red turban and the Nawab’s the white turban. Johan Zoffany placed himself in the painting at the far right hand side (seated, dressed in white and holding a pencil or paintbrush, presumably to sketch the scene unfolding around him) and behind him with a hand on his shoulder is his friend Mr Ozias Humphry R.A.  Next to them, wearing a blue jacket and sitting, holding a hookah, is John Wombwell, an accountant. The man wearing a red coat and standing under the red canopy is Colonel Antoine Louis Polier (a Swiss soldier) and the gentleman seated on the white divan wearing a red military jacket is the Frenchman Colonel Claude Martin. He is talking to Trevor Wheeler who is holding his own gamecock.

In the bottom right hand corner we find Mr Robert Gregory with a white gamecock in his hands (his father disinherited him for cock-fighting, reputedly after seeing an engraving of this painting after he had warned his son of the consequences if he continued to gamble on such fights). The rather plump Lieutenant W. Golding is sitting with his own gamecock and on the floor next to him, holding an empty box, is Mr Gregory’s Cockfighter.

Nawab of Oudh, Asaf-Ud-Daula, Lucknow, India, c.1785-90 by a local artist after Zoffany (via Wikimedia)
Nawab of Oudh, Asaf-ud-Daula, Lucknow, India, c.1785-90 by a local artist after Zoffany (via Wikimedia)

Further details were later revealed. From the Tate’s information on the painting:

After its acquisition by the Tate the painting was cleaned, revealing new subtleties of colour, detail and meaning. The Nawab’s state of sexual arousal, his agitated pose and inclination towards his chief minister and favourite bodyguard Hassan Resa Khan (in the ornate red turban), add an erotic dimension to the nature of the cock fight. The vignette just behind the Nawab shows a bearded Hindu (in turban) fondling a Moslem boy catamite (in the white cap worn by Moslem men), to the outrage of the man in the red turban who must be restrained by a courtier. Lewis Ferdinand Smith recounted that the Nawab ‘has many adopted children, but none of his own’ – despite a harem of 500 beauties – and that towards his wife of sixteen years ‘he has never fulfilled the duties of a husband’ (quoted in Archer, p.144). This painting was perhaps Hastings’s select joke, a memento of his time in India.

Detail from the Tate copy.
Detail from the Tate copy.

One version of this painting was presented to the Nawab (presumably omitting the extra details above) and one to Hastings. Unfortunately the ship in which it was later travelling on its homeward journey to England was lost at sea (Hastings was luckily on another ship) and so Zoffany painted a second version for him, the one pictured above. The Nawab’s copy was lost in the rebellion of 1857 (and is presumed destroyed) but a slightly different version, with less people in it, was given by the Nawab’s successor Ghazi-ud-din Haider to Richard Strachey who was the British Resident at Lucknow from 1815 to 1817. This copy, known as the Ashwick version and also painted by Zoffany, is still in a private collection.

The Ashwick version, from John Zoffany R.A., his Life and Works, 1735-1810.
The Ashwick version, from John Zoffany R.A., his Life and Works, 1735-1810.

Three further versions are in existence, all however painted much later than the original. One is an Indian version of the painting, c.1840 and possibly commissioned by John Elliot, the son of the 1st Earl of Minto who was Governor-General in India in the early nineteenth-century. This painting was sold at Sotheby’s auction house in 2014. Interestingly, the 1st Earl of Minto, Sir Gilbert Elliot, was a contemporary of Colonel John Mordaunt’s and would more than likely have been aware of his Scottish ancestry. Sir Gilbert’s wife descended from the same Dalrymple family as Grace, and his sons were educated by the Scottish historian David Hume who was certainly aware of the Brown’s of Blackburn in Berwickshire from which both Jack Mordaunt and Grace were descended on their respective mothers’ side.

Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match, copy made c.1840
Colonel Mordaunt and Nawab Asaf al-Daula of Avadh at a Cock Fight, Company School, Patna, circa 1840, after Richard Earlom’s mezzotint of Zoffany’s ‘Col. Mordaunt’s Cock Match’, via Sotheby’s website.

An Indian artist in Lucknow, c.1800, made a reasonably faithful copy of Zoffany’s original. This is now in the Harvard Art Museum.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Stuart Cary Welch Collection, Gift of Edith I. Welch in memory of Stuart Cary Welch
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Stuart Cary Welch Collection, Gift of Edith I. Welch in memory of Stuart Cary Welch

Lastly, a version which was again painted by a Lucknow artist, c.1830-35 and held by the British Library.

Painting of Asaf al-Daula (the Nawab of Awadh 1775-97) at a cock-fight, by a Lucknow artist, c. 1830-35. © The British Library
Painting of Asaf al-Daula (the Nawab of Awadh 1775-97) at a cock-fight, by a Lucknow artist, c. 1830-35.
© The British Library

We can’t conclude this without pointing out the similarity in appearance between Colonel John Mordaunt and his cousin Grace Dalrymple Elliott. Both were tall and slender, and we think we can see a distinct likeness in the profiles of their two faces. Do our readers agree?

Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match c.1784-6 by Johan Zoffany 1733-1810

 

You can find out more about Grace’s life and adventures and Colonel John Mordaunt and his time in India in our book.

valentines_small

How to find your Valentine – Georgian style

Well, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and it’s a leap year, so what are you waiting for, it’s the perfect time to find your soul mate. The Georgians were no different – they believed that they had to pull out all the stops to find the person of their dreams, so forget internet dating and give some of these a go! Please feel free to let us know if you tried them with success!

(c) The National Trust for Scotland, Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse & Garden; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Love Letter by Francis Wheatley (c) The National Trust for Scotland, Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse & Garden; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

These suggestions come courtesy of a Miss Arabella Whimsey (draw your own conclusions on that one) who apparently wrote to the editor Mr. Town on the 17th February 1755, despite our best attempts we have not managed to locate such a young lady!

Dear Sir!

You must know I am in love with a very clever man, a Londoner; and as I want to know whether it is my fortune to have him, I have tried all the tricks I can hear of for that purpose.

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I have seen him several time in coffee-grounds with a sword by his side; and he was once at the bottom of a tea-cup in a coach and six with two footmen behind it.

I got up last May morning and went into the fields to hear the cuckoo; and when pulled of my left shoe, I found a hair in it, exactly the same last Midsummer Eve.

Dumb Cake
The Dumb Cake (Victorian genre), 1841. Courtesy of Ancestry Images.com

I and my two sisters tried the Dumb Cake: you must know of it, two must make it, two bake it, two break it and the third put it under each of their pillows (but you must not speak a word all the time). This we did; and to be sure I did nothing all night but ream of Mr. Blossom.

The same night, exactly at twelve o’clock, I sowed hempseed in our back yard and said to myself ‘Hempseed I sow, Hempseed I hoe, and he that is my true-love, come after me and mow’. Will you believe me? I looked back and saw him behind me, as plain as eyes could see him.

After that I took a clean shirt, and turned it, and hung it upon the back of a chair; and very likely my sweetheart would have come and turned it right again (or I heard his step) but I was frightened and could not help speaking, which broke the charm.

I likewise stuck up two Midsummer Men, one for myself and one for him. Now if his had died away, we should never have come together: but I assure you he blowed and turned to me.

(c) The Bowes Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
A Young Girl Attended by a Chaperone, giving a rose to her lover secretly C de Blay (c) The Bowes Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Our maid Betty tells me that if I go backwards without speaking a word, into the garden upon Midsummer’s Eve and gather a rose and keep it in a clean piece of paper until Christmas day, it will be as fresh as in June and then if I stick it in my bosom then he who is to be my husband will come and take it out.

Last Friday, Mr. Town, was Valentine’s Day and I’ll tell you what I did the night before.

bay leaves

I got five bay-leaves and pinned four of them to the four corners of my pillow and the fifth to the middle; and then if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year out.

But to make it more sure, I boiled an egg hard and took out the yolk and filled it up with salt; and when I went to bed I ate it shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it and this was to have the same effect as the bay leaves.

We also wrote our lovers names upon bits of paper and rolled them up in clay and put them in water and the first that rose up, was to be our Valentine. Would you think it?

Mr. Blossom was my man: and I lay in bed and shut my eyes all the morning, till he came to our house, for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world.

Dear Mr. Town, if you know any other ways to try our fortune, do put them in your paper. My Mamma laughs at us and says there is nothing in them; but I am sure there is, for several Misses at our boarding school have tired them and they have all happened true.

Your humble servant

 

Arabella Whimsey.

 

Sources:

Connoisseur (Collected Issues), Thursday, February 20, 1755

Header:

https://clarklibrary.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/item-of-the-week-valentines-day-edition/

NB

We realize that some of the pictures are slightly out of our usual time frame, but we simply had to include them.

Pancake - banner

Pancake Day in the Georgian Era

We all like a good pancake so we thought we would take a trip back in time to look at some eighteenth-century recipes as well as some newspaper articles about pancakes. And like now, people didn’t just eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

Caledonian Mercury, 13th August 1724

London, August 6. We hear from Harrow-weel, near Stanmore in Middlesex, that a Labourer’s Wife in that Parish, having been delivered on the Wednesday of a fine Child, was found the next Day by the Midwife, with her Stays lac’d on, frying Pancakes for her Husband’s Dinner.

 Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 23rd March 1767

IRELAND

Cork, March 5 – Monday last, at Mallow fair, a man choaked himself by excess of eating. He had laid a bet with his companion that he would eat three pennyworth of new bread and two pounds of cheese, while the other could sip two quarts of ale with a table spoon; and while the deceased was taking the last bit, he declared he had never before got such a delicious feast of the kind, but he was afraid it would spoil his meal of pancakes the next day. [Shrove Tuesday fell on the 3rd March that year.]

The Pancake Woman by Willem van Mieris c.1710-19 (c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Pancake Woman by Willem van Mieris c.1710-19
(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 Stamford Mercury, 1st April 1773

Extracts of a letter from Exeter, March 19.

Wednesday last Matthew Hutton, an ostler in this city, was committed to the gaol of this city for the murder of his wife; it appeared upon examination before the coroner, that on Friday last he came home and ordered his wife to get some pancakes for supper, which she did, and when she had fryed one, he took it to his plate, and then sent her out for some beer, during which time it is supposed he put some arsenic in the batter, as he ate no more, and she died the next morning at eight o’clock in great agonies; and on opening the body some arsenic was found, and several symptoms to corroborate the suspicion, and influence the Jury to bring in their verdict, wilful murder.

What adds to the general opinion that he is guilty is, that he endeavoured to poison her about a month ago in coffee, and never came home till the above evening for a long time past, keeping company with another woman. The remainder of the batter is taken care of, and is intended to be analysed.

[NB he was named Robert Hutton in a report of him being committed to gaol in the Bath Chronicle, 25th March 1773.]

Woman Baking Pancakes, Adriaan de Lelie, c. 1790 - c. 1810 Rijksmuseum
Woman Baking Pancakes, Adriaan de Lelie, c. 1790 – c. 1810
Rijksmuseum

Perthshire Courier, 16th August 1810

The warm approbation and applauses given by the generous inhabitants of the City of Perth, to the Exhibitions now in the Theatre here, are extremely flattering to Mr HERMAN BOAZ, and highly honorable to his labours; he seeks not to conceal that the love of public fame, more than private interest, is his chief thirst, and the applauses which every spectator have bestowed on his Performances, have amply gratified his expectations and wishes; he therefore, begs leave to render his unfeigned thanks to the numerous audiences who attended him the three first evenings, and begs leave to inform the Public, that he exhibits again on FRIDAY Evening, the 17th inst. August.

N.B. MR BOAZ begs leave to observe, that on the above evening, he will Fry Hot Pancakes, in a Gentleman’s Hat, without the assistance of Fire, or damage to the Hat. The Performance will conclude with the Grand Coup de Main.

The Doors will be opened each Evening, at half-past Seven o’clock, and the operations begin precisely at Eight, and finish at Ten.

PIT, 2s. – GALLERY, 1s.

Chester Courant, 26th February 1811

SHROVE TUESDAY – The following account of the origin of frying pancakes on this day, is copied from Mr Gale’s Recreations:- One Simon Eyre, a shoe-maker, being chosen Lord Mayor of London, instituted a pancake feast on Shrove Tuesday, for all the apprentices in London; and from that it became a custom. He ordered that, upon the ringing of a bell in every parish, the apprentices should leave off work, and shut up their shops for that day; which being ever since yearly observed, is called the Pancake Bell. In that same year he built Leadenhall, viz. 1406, so that the present Shrove Tuesday will be the 365th since its institution.

Chester Chronicle, 14th February 1812

Shrove Tuesday was celebrated in this city with the usual solemnities – pancakes, cockfighting, and fuddling, were the orders of the day; and scarce a snip or a snob were to be found within the hills of mortality – at work: it was a holiday for them, as it always has been from time immemorial – all the close pits in the neighbourhood were thronged with eager spectators of the royal pastime! As night spread around her dusky mantle, the participators in the festivities of the day staggered towards home, with head and pockets ‘light as air,’ many of them ornamented in the most luminous part of their person.

Kitchen-sene with a Girl frying Pancakes, Louis Aubert, 1740 - 1780 Rijksmuseum
Kitchen-sene with a Girl frying Pancakes, Louis Aubert, 1740 – 1780
Rijksmuseum

And we thought we would end with a few recipes, should you fancy trying something a little different this Pancake Day.

A recipe for Rice Pancakes (from the Oxford Journal, 20th February 1796)

Boil a quarter of a pound of ground rice in a quart of milk till the rice is tender, then strain it; put to the Rice four or six eggs, leaving out half the whites; cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar to your taste, and a large spoonful of flour; mix it some time before you fry them. Great attention must be given whilst frying them, lest they burn.

To make fine Pancakes

Take a pint of cream, eight eggs (leave out two of the whites) three spoonfuls of sack or orange flower water, a little sugar, if it be agreeable, a grated nutmeg; the butter and cream must be melted over the fire: mix all together, with three spoonfuls of flour; butter the frying pan for the first, let them run as thin as you can in the pan, fry them quick, and send them up hot.

To make a pink coloured Pancake

Boil a large beet root tender, and beat it fine in a marble mortar, then add the yolks of four eggs, two spoonfuls of flour, and three spoonfuls of good cream, sweeten it to your taste, grate in half a nutmeg, and put in a glass of brandy; beat them all together half an hour, fry them in butter and garnish them with green sweetmeats, preserved apricots, or green sprigs of myrtle. – It is a pretty corner dish for either dinner or supper.

Apple Pancakes – this recipe certainly sounds like one worth trying from William Ellis’s Country Housewife’s Family Companion!

Apple Pancakes for Gentry

We have even managed to find a Youtube ‘how to’ for pancakes using recipes in the book

Sources not mentioned above:

The experienced English house-keeper, consisting of near 800 original receipts by Elizabeth Raffald.

Ridotto - Haymarket (British Museum)

‘Mother M.’ at the Ridotto in 1777

We are thrilled to have been asked to write a guest blog  by the lovely Laurie Benson and so, we’ll hand you over to her exceptionally cozy drawing room where amongst other things you’ll be able to find out more about one of Grace’s relatives by clicking here.

Like us, Laurie is a lover of all things Georgian and Regency and her new book An Unsuitable Duchess will be available later this year.

If you haven’t visited Laurie’s site before, we’re certain you’ll find lots of fascinating things to enjoy and we hope you enjoy our blog post.

book-cover-front

(c) Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Curious 18th Century Cats

Two Girls Dressing a Kitten by Candlelight by Joseph Wright of Derby, c.1768-70 (c) English Heritage, Kenwood; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

We thought today we would take a look at newspaper reports about these furry felines and were quite surprised by the articles we found, so here we go, were they fact or merely folklore, please don’t ask us to verify the truth behind any of them!

The Sun, 1st January 1795

A few days ago a cat kept by Mr. Wood, boatman, at Sleaford, produced a kitten with two heads and two tails, which was remarkably strong and lively and sucked alternately with each head, till puss, displeased with the monster she had brought forth, set her teeth and talons to work and killed it, and that after she had suckled it for two days and two nights.

Young Girl with a Kitten by William Mulready (attributed to) (c) Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

On the 30th October 1799, The Observer wrote the following:

Mr. Bowle, tool-maker of Ipswich, has a cat of the tortoise-shell kind, which last week produced a fine male kitten marked in like manner. This we believe to be the first instance of a male cat of this colour on record.

WRONG … Mr Bowle would have been out of luck as one was reported to have been born over 20 years earlier according to the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser of August 29th, 1776:

Tortoise shell 1776

So do any of our readers know when the first male tortoiseshell cat appeared?

‘Psyche’, a White Persian Cat by Francis Sartorius I, 1787 (c) National Trust, Fenton House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

On the 24th October 1800, The London Packet, returned us to Ipswich with this article

Thursday a gentleman in this town bought a cod fish; on dressing it, a kitten and crab were found in its belly. It was afterwards cooked, but those who knew the circumstance preferred something else for dinner.

A Girl Holding a Cat by Philippe Mercier, c.1750 (c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

On the 25th April 1798, The London Packet wrote that:

On Thursday last a cat in the Groat Market, Newcastle, brought forth a kitten of the following curious description: – It has eight legs and four ears, two of the latter are close together upon the top of the head, the others in the usual places. From the middle backwards, it separates and has all the parts complete of two, one male and the other female. The foreparts are those of a single animal, except the ears and legs.

Teatotalism by Edward Bird, c.1795 (c) Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Our final offering really does defy belief. It is taken from Stuart’s Star and Evening Telegraph, 17th April 1789.

Dr. Falconer, an eminent physician of Bath, has lately made a discovery that will astonish all mankind. The Horse of Knowledge, the Stone eater or the Learned Pig, will now be thought trifling, as the doctor has fallen upon a method to learn a cat to perform all the actions of a human being!

The doctor has always been very fond of this ferocious animal. If ever he hears that a cat is with kitten, he attends her carefully twice a day and administers such medicines as he thinks may operate favourably; and, though in this human practice he has often been received in a scratching manner, yet his perseverance is unalterable.

At present he has a cat tutored to such perfection that it dresses his hair, writes letters, prepares medicine, and some persons say he will soon learn it to wait on his patients.

He however, does not intend to make any public show of this surprising creature … but has in contemplation to set up a school to teach cats and to advertise places for them; and there is no doubt but their qualifications will be very extraordinary.

Our final painting is a rather ‘cute’ one by James Northcote which was, according to The Oracle and Public Advertiser painted around 23rd July 1795:

Northcote, the painter, is occupied upon a very difficult subject, the visitation to Balaam…the same artist has produced a beautiful portrait of a girl with a kitten.

A Little Girl Nursing a Kitten by James Northcote, 1795 (c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Lady Dalrymple and [her daughter] Miss Carteret escorted by Mr Elliot and Colonel Wallis, from a 1909 edition of Persuasion.

Jane Austen and the ‘Infamous Mistress’ Connection

Today is a little different. We’re delighted to have been asked to guest blog for fellow Pen and Sword Books author Sue Wilkes and so, without further ado, we’d like to direct you to her excellent website (by clicking here) where you’ll find us speculating upon a link between Grace Dalrymple Elliott and Jane Austen.

Amongst other books, Sue is the author of A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England and Regency Spies, both of which we highly recommend.

We’re sure you will love her site, if you haven’t visited it before, and hope you enjoy our blog post.